3 1/2 StarsFor nearly a decade now I’ve felt that Dwayne Johnson’s onscreen career had peaked with the artfully violent action film The Rundown. As each subsequent film came forth with lesser impact, that 2003 film felt further and further away. Now ten years later Johnson has found a real role that allows him to breathe a bit onscreen and play a recognizable human being (albeit) one with a huge physique. John Matthews is the hardworking owner of a trucking company, and father to an estranged teenage son and perpetually unhappy ex-wife. When Matthew’s son is arrested for receiving a shipment of ecstasy through the mail, the D.A. gives him choice; roll over and snitch or face a decade behind bars. Although the marketing department at the movie studios are advertising Snitch as another Johnson action extravaganza, viewers may be shocked to discover this is a drama with moments of action interspersed.
Susan Sarandon is a tough nosed District Attorney unwilling to let Johnson’s son walk free unless he rolls over on his cohorts. Refusing to do so, the boy is looking at ten years in federal prison. So Johnson enlists himself to make contact with and deliver the drug kingpins. This unlikely story is evidentially based on real-life events and the film, though starring the mesomorph Johnson, is a stripped down action-drama with heavy influence on the latter. The action is handled well and is within the realm of reality, nobody performs superhuman stunts or feats of aerobic fighting. In fact it’s quite refreshing to see Johnson get beaten up by a group of thugs when he finds himself in the wrong neighborhood asking questions.
Hiding under some of the wildest facial hair since the civil war ended, Barry Pepper is a powerhouse as the narcotics agent who serves as Johnson go-to man. It may seem odd to continually point out the acting in a movie titled Snitch, but relative newcomer Jon Bernthal is a scene stealer. His connection with Johnson are the driving force of the narrative. Its a small yet powerful and memorable role in a film that could be described the same.
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
Stars; Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Susan Sarandon